Munich - Matchday 30’s Klassiker may not be the title-decider Bundesliga fans worldwide had hoped it might be, but FC Bayern München vs. Borussia Dortmund is a game that rarely fails to throw up a treat, irrespective of the points margin between the two giants in the standings.
Back to haunt BVB
One man who will be eagerly anticipating Saturday’s clash at the Allianz Arena - perhaps more so than most - is Mario Götze. Since joining the champions from BVB last year, the 21-year-old has slotted seamlessly into Bayern’s star-studded ensemble and, after getting on the scoresheet when the two sides last met, will be hoping to put his former club to the sword once more this weekend.
With the two rivals locked together at 0-0 after 65 minutes of November’s clash at Signal Iduna Park, Götze ghosted in between the Dortmund defence, collected Thomas Müller’s low cross and prodded a finish past Roman Weidenfeller and into the corner. Further strikes from Arjen Robben and Müller completed a comphrehensive 3-0 win that sent Bayern seven-points clear of the Schwarz-Gelben after just 13 matches.
While Götze admitted it had been important to move clear of Jürgen Klopp’s team at the top of the table, the Memmingen-born star revealed he was left with mixed feelings after scoring against his former employers. “The situation wasn’t very pleasant. It wasn’t easy to cope with,” he told the Abendzeitung at the time. “It was a new experience for me to be booed by the whole stadium, but part of me understood [the fans’ frustrations].
‘I can do better’
Götze’s strike against Dortmund was the midfielder’s second league goal of the 2013/14 season. Since then he has gone on to find the net a further six times and has also chipped in with seven assists in 23 league appearances. The German international says he is satisfied with his first season at the Allianz Arena, but is adamant the Bayern faithful have yet to see the best of him.
“Considering I had to force may way into the team after my injury [at the beginning of the season], I feel I’ve fulfilled my own expectations,” Götze told Munich-based newspaper Abendzeitung. “But the standards I set myself keep getting higher. At the moment, there are many things that aren’t quite the way I’d like them to be. Whether it’s heading, using my left foot, or even the number of goals I score and set up - I always feel I can do better.”
Eyeing European glory
Götze’s final campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia was curtailed by a thigh injury that forced him to miss last season’s all-German UEFA Champions League final between Bayern and Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. Having got past Manchester United FC in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition, Götze is determined to make up for last summer’s disappointment by helping the Bavarians reach Lisbon. “I’m desperate to get to the Champions League final,” he admitted. “That would be absolutely amazing.”
First up for the 'German Messi', however, is the latest instalment of the Bundesliga’s greatest rivalry, and Götze is relishing the prospect of coming up against his old colleagues at his new home. “I’m still in daily contact with one or two friends in Dortmund,” he said. “They’re people I’ve known a long time and I’m always going to stay in touch with them. I get back to see them whenever possible.”
So does he miss life in Westphalia? “I feel really happy here,” he said. “Munich’s a magnificent city and my teammates have played a big part in [helping me settle in]. I’m living the dream and I don’t think I’d swap it for anything.”